Harden's survey result
“Hot dogs and Champagne – how could that be wrong?”, asks a fan of Sandia Chang’s unlikely-sounding Fitzrovia concept bar, which shares premises with her husband James Knappett’s tasting-menu-only Kitchen Table (see also). What’s more, “excellent burgers” paired with “London’s most accessible list of Champagnes (including some crackers by the glass) qualifies as cheap and ridiculously cheerful”.
Sandia Chang’s “buzzy if slightly cramped” Fitzrovia haunt (a unique double act with husband, James Knappett’s fine-dining Kitchen Table, see also) is an unlikely success. As concepts go, hot dogs and Champagne make an “odd couple” – “the dogs are great” “but the real star is the range of fizz – lots of small producers and excellent variety, at good prices”.
For 30 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. In a typical year, diners submit over 50,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK. Each year, the guide is re-written from scratch based on this survey (although for the 2021 edition, reviews are little changed from 2020 as no survey could run for that year).
Have you eaten at Bubbledogs?
|Wine per bottle||£41.00|
A tiny and crammed Fitzrovia parlour, specialising in hot dogs and champagne; we couldn't quite rationalise the appeal on our early days visit, but it was certainly already drawing in the punters.
A small neon sign above an unimposing street frontage announces the name of this discreet newcomer. Might we be in Greenwich Village? Er, no - it's Fitzrovia. The feeling of dislocation increases as, having gone down the small entrance corridor, we approach the actual dining room. It's full of people, almost all of the same age (25-35), many standing, most drinking champagne. Just after noon.
A corporate party? Someone filming a homage to Sex and the City? Was our journey therefore in vain? Turns out not: we could be squeezed into the last available 'space' (by a shelf, pictured); this is just a normal day at a newcomer which has captured the imagination of the local media-world worker bees with a bizarrely improbable formula billed as 'hot dogs and champagne'.
Can it really mean that? Well, the hot dog bit is true enough. Three sorts of sausage (beef, pork, veggie) come about a dozen different ways. The one we tried - a Fourth of July seemed appropriate - was certainly tasty enough (if perhaps not of any great character), and we had it with some very good tater tots (potato croquettes), which is one of the tiny range of accompaniments. No puds (yet). No coffee.
And the drink they push really is champagne. Our glass of Gaston Chiquet - the same one they pour at Sheekey's - was £6.50. There's a wide choice of other 'grower' champagnes, as they call them, too plus - and here the hype does give way to reality a bit - a range of not inexpensive still wines and beers too.
So, does champagne - contrary to all expectations - prove to be a natural complement to hot dogs? No.
Notwithstanding this basic failure, does the formula seem to work? Well, it certainly seemed to be keeping the punters happy on our lunchtime visit. But a younger colleague, a New Yorker, who subsequently went on a Saturday evening, found the hot dog too bland and well-mannered, and the appeal of the overall formula difficult to see.
Perhaps, then, this really is one of those, mercifully quite rare, reviews where the only answer is recommend you go and see for yourself. It's not a huge investment - a glass of champagne, a hot dog and a basket of tots weighs in at a fraction under £20.
70 Charlotte St, London, W1T 4QG
|Tuesday||5:30 pm‑11 pm|
|Wednesday||5:30 pm‑11 pm|
|Thursday||5:30 pm‑11 pm|
|Friday||11:30 am‑11 pm|
|Saturday||11:30 am‑11 pm|